McALESTER — McAlester senior Noah Rose has always enjoyed running, but he never liked sprinting. Short races, after all, last just a matter of seconds — not nearly enough time to really enjoy the experience.
When Rose joined McAlester’s cross country team this year, he finally found a sport that would allow him to really run.
“It’s peace,” Rose said Saturday. “You forget everything that’s going on. You’re just fully relaxed.”
Born in McAlester, Rose moved to Washington, Penn., when he was 2 and stayed there for four years. When his grandmother died when he was 6, he said, he returned with his father and brother to McAlester to be nearer to his grandfather.
Rose said he’d wanted to join the Buffs in previous seasons, but multiple reasons — too low numbers for a team, a now-ex-girlfriend — always kept him from joining. When Rose finally did join before his senior year, he did so with gusto, attending every offseason workout this past summer.
That dedication impressed both his teammates and his coaches, who chose him as team captain.
“I felt really happy about it,” Rose said of being named captain. “I didn’t expect it to be me.
“My biggest goal is to make sure everybody is focused, working hard, showing up to practice. If there’s any problem, they can come to me.”
Rose ran track during the spring in both his freshman and junior years, and he said he plans to do so again this spring. But whereas his best mile-splits never broke the seven-minute mark in the spring season, he’s already brought his split down to under six minutes this fall.
Rose credited his dramatic improvement to encouragement from his dad and summer runs and CrossFit sessions with his Buffs teammates.
“Douglas Hill, that was a really hard workout, and really made me think about (keeping my) arms past my hips,” Rose said. “That’s the main thing you want to do when you’re running.
“My endurance went really up. I wasn’t so easily tired. From the summer to now, I’ve gained 21 pounds.”
With this newfound strength and endurance, Rose said he’s set a goal of running a marathon, the most likely one being the San Antonio Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon on Nov. 17. Now “hooked,” as he put it it, on long-distance running, he said he typically runs six days a week in practice or for fun.
Rose said he can already regularly run 13 miles, or half the distance of a marathon.
“I just have to find a good course and try to find where I can get some water,” Rose said. He added that unlike in a 5K, running the 26.2 miles of a marathon requires you to rehydrate and refuel throughout the race.
Rose has so taken to cross country that he’d like to continue running in college. He said he hopes to join the cross country team at East Central University, where he’d like to attend and study law enforcement and criminal justice.
“Noah is a good kid,” coach Susanne Carney said. “Works hard, stays clean. Love him like a son.”
Rose said after graduating he’d like to become a police officer, then an agent with the Drug Enforcement Agency. As kid, he said, he’d wanted to join the military, but a hiatal hernia in his stomach made him ineligible for military service.
“I’ve kind of seen (drugs) destroy a lot of my friends, and I don’t want to see it happen to anybody,” Rose said when asked why he wanted to join the DEA.
Though he can’t join the military, Rose still tries to mimic the lifestyle when he can. Rose started participating in airsoft, a military simulation activity that replaces military weapons with spring- or gas-powered replicas that shoot plastic pellets, six years ago, first traveling to competitions in Tulsa and then Coal Creek.
“These guys I play with get helicopters, they got a tank once, so it’s pretty cool,” Rose said of airsoft.
“Recently there’s been a McAlester team, but at first we had to go to Tulsa. We almost went every weekend.”
Because of his love for cats, Rose said he’s known as “Katman” among all his different groups of friends. Cats are known for their speed and agility, and if Rose can stay on his toes and not on his heels when he runs — a lesson he learned Saturday at Henryetta — perhaps his nickname will reflect those qualities as well.
Contact Matt Goisman at email@example.com.